05/03/2004

UUP express 'utter disbelief' at SF electoral spending

Sinn Féin's electoral spending during last year's Assembly elections have been questioned by the Ulster Unionist Party.

UUP MLA for Mid Ulster, Billy Armstrong, expressed his "utter disbelief" at the news that Sinn Féin spent just £28,000 on electioneering compared to £234,000 by the SDLP, £147,000 by the DUP and £170,000 by his own party.

“I find it absolutely incredulous that the monies reported by Sinn Fein could be an accurate reflection of their central election expenditure," Mr Armstrong said. "When one considers the costs associated with advertising, party election broadcasts and election literature it beggars belief that the Electoral Commission should substantiate these figures."

However, Sinn Féin's Barry McElduff said his party did not need to spend thousands on bill board campaigns.

The West Tyrone MLA said: "You win elections by what you do between elections as opposed to the final three week run in.

"We do have the benefit of very many young activists and experienced activists who help in elections in the north."

This week's figures were submitted by the parties themselves - the first time they have been called on to do so.

(MB)

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